Car Time – November 2020

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Automotive Questions, Concerns and Ideas about the Future: California Phasing Out Gas Powered Vehicles By 2035?

    Our state’s politicians are moving towards accelerating California’s efforts to combat global warming. It is a big step, confronting this problem with these major plans. Do we want to ban all internal-based combustion vehicles by 2035? This is California’s reaction to this real problem.
    We have to look at the big picture. The way we will meet the proposal’s demands seems a bit complicated, leaving me with questions. What does the big picture look like in 15 years? What will transportation be like in 2035, based on the technology curve? What about the advancements in combustion engines? Will we have the resources to make the batteries needed for all the electric vehicles? What about the emissions issues related to increased power grid usage?
    The big picture is to curb greenhouse emissions. In 15 years, transportation will be much different than it is today. In the not-so-distant future, we will have autonomous “cars” which do not require a driver. Car usage will be more like a service than ownership. More like an armchair with wheels than a traditional car, these vehicles will be comfortable shuttles, with better accessibility.
    Many folks will prefer this alternative to making car payments and dealing with maintenance. Uber and Lyft are testing their driverless programs. Robo taxi companies like Cruise and Zoox are on the scene. These robo taxis are electric as well.
    This segment will account for a large percentage of electric vehicles on the road. Currently, electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries. The main raw material needed to produce these batteries is tungsten. China monopolizes the majority of tungsten mining today and is dominating the battery market. This will complicate a plan which relies on electric vehicles since using these batteries could have an impact on the U.S. economy.
    There are other alternatives to gas burners, like low emission, natural gas and hydrogen vehicles currently on the road. There are presently infrastructure concerns with these vehicles, but they do fit the needs of some of today’s drivers.
    Solar energy is good but is still only able to handle a fraction of a zillion electric cars. If you do not have an effective solar set up, then you get your power off the grid. The nation’s electric grid gets its power mainly from burning coal and other fossil fuels which generate emissions. Sources say the nation’s electric generating mix will be just 30% renewable by 2030.
    And as for the electric car: The energy for it doesn’t come from nowhere. Cars are charged from the nation’s electrical grid, which means they’re only as “clean” as America’s mix of power sources.
    Those are getting cleaner, but we still generate power mainly by burning fossil fuels. Natural gas is our biggest source of electricity, and the percentage is projected to increase. And coal, while still declining, will remain the second largest source of electricity for some time (third is nuclear power, which doesn’t generate emissions but has other worrisome byproducts for environmentalists). Even with large increases in wind and solar generation, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects it could be not just gas burning cars which are endangered, but cars in general will have a finite life span and eventually go the way of the CD player. This transition will take a long time and it is not likely some of us will see gas burners completely outlawed in our lifetime.
    While electric cars are the current rage, automotive manufacturers are using today’s technology to design super clean-burning engines. Combining engine technology with new lightweight building concepts can significantly increase fuel mileage while also reducing tailpipe emissions.
    The best solution may be a combination of alternative ideas and a worldwide commitment to address global warming. Things will change a lot in the next 15 years and we will see where it takes us. I am always available for automotive consultation, whether about your vehicle today or what your perfect vehicle might be in years to come.

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